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Live Review: The Harpoons, Total Giovanni, Caspian Joseph

14 August 2014 | 6:33 pm | Jack Lynch

Shaking hips and shuffling feet to catchy, electronic soul-pop number

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It is a pleasant surprise to see fans of The Harpoons dancing confidently to Caspian Joseph’s immersive electronic set. He plunges his audience into a period of deep reflection before hosting an unrestricted house party. As it closes, murmurs of this being an ‘I was there’ moment is encouraging considering it’s this 19-year-old’s debut show.

If Total Giovanni’s plan is to thrust their way into the memories of everyone at this sold-out Workers Club show then their approach has worked. The only thing that can outdo the quintet’s flannelette shirts and rainbow-splattered hardhat uniform (workers clothing, The Workers Club – get it?) is their music: Aussie-infused party disco. Their punchy tunes are tighter and more diverse than most other gimmick-driven bands and their set proves an excellent loosener for the main show.

Vocalist Bec Rigby can hardly contain her smile as The Harpoons open flawlessly with their 2011 breakout single Keep You Around. They are dynamically impressive and Rigby projects stronger than her diminutive frame should allow. The band work into a their signature pop groove by shifting tempos and nailing appropriately placed vocal harmonies. Current single Can We Work This Out presents a turning point in the show. Drummer Martin King advances to the front of stage to help steer the sound from soul-pop to heartfelt R&B. It is an evolutionary risk for The Harpoons, who admit that playing new songs live “makes the pressure extra intense”. Not weighed down by this anxiety, their new electronic focus provides interesting textures and gives the rhythm section a more definitive structure. It is well received.

The night’s highlight is Unforgettable, which combines The Harpoons’ old and new directions. The catchy, electronic soul-pop number is met with nodding heads, shaking hips and shuffling feet. When played live, the song is a much richer experience than the recorded version, which gives credence to the band’s musical talents and theatrical nous.

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A downside to the set is the lengthy breaks between songs. These nothing moments allow a crescendo in crowd chatter as the cliquey Melbourne audience loses interest in the band. The Harpoons are occasionally sucked into the bubbly atmosphere and unsteadily teeter on the wire between an informal gig and a disorganised one. It is a minor infraction, but momentarily slows the unpretentious fun that has been present for most of the night.

At the show’s conclusion, Rigby modestly proclaims, “Now, let’s dance!” apparently unaware that The Harpoons and their support acts’ infectious attitude and quality performances has already left many in need of a rest.